Tuesday 27 February 2018

Steph Redfern workshop

I recently attended another workshop by Steph Redfern at the RBSA.  I did a couple of workshops there with Steph last summer.  This one was called Fabulous Forests.  The inspiration was trees obviously.  I was really taken with an example of Steph's work.
Collage on Khadi paper by Steph Redfern

We had been asked to take fabrics and a variety of papers with us.  Steph provided some bark and some other bits and pieces including a canvas each.  I started by choosing the 12x12" canvas and some rust dyed fabric that I had bought.

Then I began to make up little collages to go onto the background.

I sewed a few straight stitches on each small collage to ensure they were adhered to the background.

And left the workshop with the whole piece at this point.  We had decided that it would be best to put the piece onto calico before attaching it to the canvas.

At home I painted the white canvas a calico colour and found some suitable beads.  When I came to attach the finished piece to the canvas with the calico behind it I ran into all sorts of problems.  The rust dyed background isn't square.  The calico wasn't square.  The frame is square!  So I gave up on the calico and stuck the piece directly to the canvas.

Done is better than perfect!   If you have any tips on how to get square pieces of fabric when you want to be able to fray the edges please comment below.

Thanks for joining me today. 

Friday 23 February 2018

Lent Words: Compassion

Following on from Mary Brack's Advent Words last December, Mary was asked if she would lead a similar study for Lent.  Unsurprisingly it's called Lent Words.

Mary asked me if I would like to write a post about one of the words and I chose today's word: Compassion.   This blog post also appears today on Mary's blog: Found on Brighton.

I have been following along with Mary's Lent Words and writing one verse each day in my EveryDay Journal.

Read Psalm 103:8-14   &   1 Peter 1:8-9

My church doesn’t follow the church calendar very much apart from Christmas & Easter. So apart from having pancakes as close to Shrove Tuesday as I can, I really don’t have much experience of following a Lenten tradition. However I feel that the word Mary chose for today – compassion – is a year long, lifetime word. A bit like the ‘A dog is not just for Christmas’ campaign, I believe ‘compassion is not just for Lent’.

God is a God of compassion. One of His names is Rakhum which is sometimes translated as Merciful God but can also be translated as Compassionate God.

In Deuteronomy 4:31 (NASB) we are told ‘For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them’.

Psalm 103:8 (NIV) describes God this way: ‘The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love’.

Throughout the Old Testament we see God showing compassion to His people. We see people struggling through hard times but God always shows compassion and comes to their rescue. And then the most spectacular rescue of all is Jesus dying on the Cross for us. I find it really hard to grasp the depth of compassion God felt for us that He sent his Son to die for us. I could hardly bear to see my son hurt in any way and nothing that happened to him compared with what Jesus did for us.

We often use other words for compassion: pity, sympathy, feeling, empathy, understanding, care, concern, solicitousness, tender-heartedness, soft-heartedness, warm-heartedness, warmth, love, brotherly love, tenderness, gentleness, mercy, tolerance, consideration, kindness, humanity, kind-heartedness, benevolence.

But when we feel compassion (or any of those other words we use) we need to do something. We can give money to aid charities and think that is enough. But we need to act. We can show compassion in the way we live our lives, in the way we speak to and about people and in the way we pray.

We are made in God’s image so compassion is a trait we should embrace. 1 Peter 3:8 (TPT) says ‘Now, this is the goal: to live in harmony with one another and demonstrate affectionate love, sympathy, and kindness toward other believers. Let humility describe who you are as you dearly love one another’.

Everyone needs compassion.

It's not too late to join in with the Lent study.   Today is day 9 of 40. Find out more on Mary's blog.

Thanks for joining me today.

There is a free class available 'Redefining Normal' by clicking on the tab at the top of this post.  The class may be of interest to those who need to show themselves some compassion.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

A new Art Cloth

Yeah!  I finished the art cloth I started at Littleheath Barn in the Autumn of 2016.  You can read about its progression here, here and here.  And even here!   I hadn't realised I had shared about it so often!  Anyway, it's finished and if you want to see the finished piece you can see it at the NEC in March.  I was determined to finish it before I started Liske's new and extended course.  And I did!

There are 5 sessions to the new course with lots of exciting screenprinting ideas.  I'm really looking forward to it.  At the first session Liske encouraged us to do some sketchbook work.  She had also suggested beforehand that we choose our favourite artist as inspiration.   My favourite, favourite is Turner.  I love all his work but particularly his Venice pictures.  Although I think I've still got several pieces of work I could make based on Venice, I really didn't want to use Venice as the art cloth inspiration.  Liske suggested I used the colours rather than the place as inspiration.

I had taken other inspiration with me.  I had taken the book with me that I made for Finding Sanctuary.  This uses the same colours but is about Florida.

I started by looking at the Neocolor II crayons I had and then the dyes.

I did some work in the sketchbook.  Some of the pages shown are just painted with the leftover dye at the end of the day.  I used a patterned roller with white acrylic paint on the left hand page

I used a star stamp on the right side page with copper acrylic paint.

I thickened the dyes with manutex and then painted it onto the fabric.  I decided only to paint sample pieces so I still have another piece of fabric for the piece of work.

This sample has the acrylic paint on it, whilst I didn't use it on the one above.

Before we finished we set up a screen for breakdown printing next time.

I'm really looking forward to the breakdown printing.

Thanks for joining me today.

Saturday 17 February 2018

Collages at C2C

In my earlier blog post about playing with 6 pieces of paper to make random collages I ended up with this piece.

I photocopied it in black & white.

I enlarged this and made several copies.   I cut two of the copies and joined them together. I then cut the two pieces up expanding them on a black background.

When I had finished gluing it together I looked at it from different angles and decided I liked this way up best:

Then I cut it again and expanded it using a red background.

With another set of photocopies of the original turquoise collage I assembled the two together in a different configuration.

  I cut the two copies again and expanded the pieces.

I decided to keep it in the horizontal view.  However it was obvious that the black spaces were too wide so I started playing with some orange paper.

I got a bit stuck with the composition about now!

After some discussion with the whole group about composition I ended up with this.

The last of the collages I'm sharing with you is the one that I think is the one most likely to be made in fabric although I'm not sure how yet.  It's actually made from bits of left over papers and photocopies.  Leslie helped quite a bit with the composition.  I had looked at samples of her design work and was trying to come up with a rectangular piece that was completely covered in elements.  Leslie suggested taking away bits and not trying to make a perfect rectangle.  We ended up with this which is much more my style.

When I glued the collage down I put it onto a piece of black paper but the black edges are too small.  I've added some more black using a photo editor to see what it might look like and it does improve it.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at some of the activities I played with at Committed to Cloth. I enjoyed it so much I have signed up to go again next January.

Thanks for joining me today.

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Playing at C2C

As you know I love to make books so it was lovely at Committed to Cloth to be encouraged to make a book.

The activity started with us attaching a scratchy old paintbrush to a stick and drawing on a large sheet of paper using black India Ink.

When the first side was dry I worked on the other side using diluted ink.  When that was dry I used a needle pen to write words and also added some circles.

I cut the large sheet of paper up into different sizes.

I added orange ink and white acrylic and some painted papers randomly to pages.

I assembled the book and after stitching the signatures together I wouve thread through each of the signature threads to make the book.

Here's a video flip through of the finished book.

Thanks for joining me today.

Saturday 10 February 2018

More Talk and a free class

Thank you for all the comments from last week's post Time to Talk.  This is another long, wordy post.

I wrote the original of this blog post as an email to some friends in September 2013 while I was suffering from depression.   I am sharing it now to further our discussion about mental health.  And also to help those of you who don't have problems to recognise when your friend or colleague is having a problem.

September 2013
It is very difficult for me to even write this. I'm not terribly keen on making myself vulnerable and admit that I need help.

I am currently very depressed and feeling like I want to cry – but daren’t in case I can’t stop. I've just done a questionnaire on a website and probably answered 95% of the questions as being depressed.

I'm very good at giving the appearance of being altogether, having my life altogether and being strong. I am very independent and rarely ask for help.

I just need to explain to you what's been going on. I have in the past been diagnosed with clinical depression and so over the years I’ve always known when it was creeping up on me and I've been able to take avoiding action. But this time it has crept up on me without me noticing because I was keeping myself busy. A lot of it stems from the whole of the last 12 months with my dad being ill and living partly in Solihull, partly in Pembrokeshire and then sitting with him while he died. Then keeping myself really busy by clearing out the house and still living partly here and partly there. This has meant with the sale of the house every little thing that pops up to stop the signing of the contract seems to be a major issue for me and I'm not dealing with it very well.

I can probably trace it all back to January 2006 when Andy left home and left the country and I didn't allow myself to cry. Somebody had said to me that him leaving home would be like a bereavement and I thought that this comment was really silly & spent the year saying well everybody's children leave home, lots of children go off to college and lots of people's children emigrate so I didn't allow myself to grieve in that sense.

In 2007 when my mother died I think I cried for about three minutes but really more from the shock of seeing someone die and so I continued on my merry little way.

Then there was the issue of the ending of King’s Church, which I have dealt with in terms of forgiveness and other things like that, but didn't allow myself to grieve about the loss of something that I'd invested 13 or more years in my life into. (I had been the church administrator.)

I very much like to be in control of things, to know exactly what's happening and how things going to pan out. In the last 12 months obviously that's not been the case. I never know whether I will be at church, or at group, not knowing whether I would be in Solihull or whether I’d be in Pembrokeshire. I've really felt that my life was totally out of my control and this obviously added to the stress.

As you know I haven't been sleeping well and the noise in my ears is quite appalling & have really struggled with the fact that despite lots of prayer that God hasn't done anything about that.

I’m currently feeling stuck as though if I make any movement I will fall into the abyss – in order to write this I had to start by dictating it on my iPad. The inability to start something is really trying!

It’s easier to borrow the words from the website I was on to describe how I am.
• I am low-spirited for much of the time, every day
• I feel restless and agitated
• I get tearful easily
• I feel numb, empty and full of despair
• I am unusually irritable or impatient
• I find no pleasure in life or things I usually enjoy
• I feel helpless
• I’m not doing activities I usually enjoy
• I am having difficulty remembering things
• I find it hard to concentrate or make decisions
• I blame myself a lot and feel guilty about things
• I am having a lot of negative thoughts
• The future seems bleak
• I have difficulty sleeping
• I feel tired and have no energy
• I have physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause
• I am moving very slowly

I have been told I should allow myself to grieve and that my emotional ‘tank’ is on empty and I need to give myself time and activities to refill it. So I would appreciate your support as I deal with all of this.

Thank you.


You may find this video useful to watch if you want to help people: The Power of Empathy

February 2018
My friends did support me and I'm pleased to say that I overcame.  In 2014 I was asked to construct a class for an online class called MADE.   I accepted and called it Redefining Normal. Using a BrenĂ© Brown quote: 'grief is the absence of normal' as a starting point the class explores the things that naturally occur in life - children leaving home, parents dying, job events, retirement - the things that happen to almost all of us. The class investigates what is our normal and how we deal with a new normal.

I am offering this class for free.  Click on this link: Redefining Normal to get to the class.

Thanks for reading all of this and thank you for joining me today.

Tuesday 6 February 2018

More play

Thank you for the comments left on my last post.  I am going to write some more about it on Saturday but in the meantime let's get back to playing at Committed to Cloth.

On the first day of the Unlocking the Mystery of Creative Play, Leslie talked about the principles and elements of design amongst other things.  She suggested various activities that we could try including Splitting Shapes and Colour & Pattern Collage.   If you own Leslie's book 'Finding Your Own Visual Language (written with Jane Dunnewold and Claire Benn), you can find these activities on p12 and p26 respectively.

I opted to do the latter activity first and gathered 6 papers that I had brought with me - mostly gelli plate prints - and a piece of sheet music.  The activity involves cutting the same shape out of each of the 6 papers in the same place and then reassembling each page with a piece from another page and repeating several times.  I took photos at various stages so you can see how the pages developed.

These are the collages after I had cut 3 circles in each paper and reassembled the page.

The fourth circle


I took the last two pages and cut them up, splitting the shapes and reassembling them on black paper.  These were pinned on my design wall.  (Sorry the photo is a bit out of focus.)

On the last day when Leslie was talking about composition, she turned the pieces round and moved them together.

The thing I enjoyed most about doing these collages was that it was pure play.  I had no end in mind, no theme to work towards, just a manipulation of the papers.  And I ended up with something that I could use as inspiration for a textile piece.

Thanks for joining me today.